Alaska From Above in Juneau

Soaring over Juneau on our dog sledding adventure by helicopter. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Princess Cruises’ Star Princess came alongside in Juneau, Alaska on a brilliant morning. The capital of the state of Alaska, Juneau has been a staple of Alaskan cruising since the very beginning. But as ships have grown, the town council has had to construct newer and larger piers to keep up with the increasing demand for docking space here.
The Star Princess is a big ship, and sometimes good ships get undesirable berthing locations. Today, we’re at the berth I love to hate: the AJ Dock, which is located at the very southern edge of town. Juneau’s other berths are well within walking distance of the town, and so is the AJ Dock – if you are able to do the nearly three mile hike into town, and if it’s not pouring rain.

Princess Cruises Star Princess...Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Princess Cruises Star Princess…Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

...docked at Juneau's AJ Dock, south of town. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

…docked at Juneau’s AJ Dock, south of town. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Nearly every cruise line in operation in Alaska uses the AJ Dock at some point, so I’m used to calling here. And if it’s a nice day, it’s a decent walk into town, through an industrial site and along Franklin Street. But if you can’t or don’t want to, you get the shakedown pierside for local bus transportation. I realize that these busses (which are operated independently of Princess Cruises) are costly to operate, but on the other hand, I don’t feel passengers should be forced to pay for something that’s out of their control to begin with. The AJ dock has been in Juneau since 2004, and yet 11 years later, there hasn’t been a single pathway constructed that would link the AJ Dock with the much-closer Franklin Dock.
Today however, it matters less where we’re docked because from the Star Princess, I’m taking a once-in-a-lifetime excursion. I’m taking a helicopter flight, landing on a glacier, and going dog-sledding.

Arriving at the Era Flightseeing helipad in Juneau...Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Arriving at the Era Flightseeing helipad in Juneau…Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

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